A Call to Arms for Amtrak!

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by Gregg Mahlkov, Jun 22, 2002.

  1. I'm sure most of you are aware by now that Amtrak will have to start shutting down next week if Congress and the Administration don't come up with over 200 million dollars in interim financing. Norm Mineta and the White House have chosen to fiddle while Amtrak burns down. I urge all of you to e-mail your Senators, Representatives, and President Bush asking them to act immediately to prevent such a shutdown. The President's e-mail is president@whitehouse.gov , you can get your Senators' (2) e-mail at www.senate.gov/contacting/index.cfm and you can reach your Representative by going to www.house.gov/writerep/

    Those of you who participate in other fourms, pass those addresses and URL's on. I'll do it on the Atlas N Forum if it ever somes back up. :eek: :eek:
  2. shamus

    shamus Registered Member

    Hi Gregg, Whilst it doen't effect me living in the UK, I would be sorry to see Amtrak come to a halt. With all the many members from various forums, I am sure you should get a great response.
    Good luck.
  3. BillD53A

    BillD53A Member

    I'm sorry. This country is being expected to jump in and save the nation's rail passenger service with an answer that will solve all problems. Wait a minute...Amtrak WAS the answer to solve all the problems!
    Amtrak solved the problems by not running the trains, and now we, who dont, and never will,again, have...passenger service, are expected to foot the bill for someone else to ride! There hasnt been rail passenger service any where near my town, or thousands like it, since 1971. I cant get ANYWHERE in the state of Florida by train, without taking a bus to Orlando first. By the time I take the bus to the train, I could have just taken the bus to my destination. By eliminating rail service to the small towns, Amtrak changed the nature of its business. They no longer operate the transportation network this country once had. They now operate what amounts to a rail cruise. As far as cruises go, Amtrak SUCKS! They used to advertise that 'getting there is half the fun'...about as much fun as a poke in the eye with a sharp stick...as far as a pleasurable travel experience, riding Amtrak ranks right up there with riding an aircraft carrier with a flight deck fire!
    I rode Amtrak once from Sebring, Florida to New York City, and the experience was horrible. The floors in the restrooms were awash in indescribable filth...and stayed that way, since there are no longer any facilities to deal with the problem enroute. The most comfortable seats on the train were in the bar car (no comments from the peanut gallery ;-) ). The only choices on the dining car menu were McDonalds hamburger patties, prepared in one of six different ways (ketchup, mustard, pickles , relish, Sweet'n'Low, Cremora.), for $8.95! The train takes the same amount of time as a bus trip...(excluding the initial bus trip TO the train!)...and since I have to start on a bus, I might as well STAY on a bus! At least the bus stops once in a while so you can get off to use the truck stop's bathroom! (Yes, the busses have bathrooms but they get as bad as AMtrak's...at least Greyhound cleans out the bathrooms several times during the trip!)
    I once used Amtrak's webpage to look into a trip from Fort Myers to Los Angeles...I had a choice of 3 intermediate routes, but no matter which route I chose, I left Fort Myers on the same bus and arrived in LA on the same train...that isnt passenger service, thats a train ride. They might as well have cowboys-n-Indians re-enactors robbing the messenger in the express car. Amtrak's whole idea is to keep riders coming back because "we took the southern route last year, dear, let's take the northern one next time". Yes, it's nice to look out the windows, but at what price, scenery?
    I also used their website to look into my trip to New York (okay, so I dont get out much)...I entered a departure date, and return date, and was looking for a sleeper bed. I was told that there were no beds on the northbound trip, but I could have one southbound. The price of the tickets was nearly $400 more than coach (IIRC)... for ONE night in a sleeper! There apparently was NO discount for the fact that I didnt GET a sleeper berth northbound!! I WANTED the bed so I had to PAY for the bed, whether I got it or not. Did I care to use Visa or Mastercard to pay for my tickets...NO WAY!! Granted, if I had been dealing with a human clerk I might have paid only for the berth one way. There was also no reason to travel on the dates I picked, it was just a lark...but the fact that I was quoted that price was very, very, scary.
    Back in 1963, I rode the Atlantic Coast Line's "West Coast Champion" from New York-Penn Station to Fort Myers in 26 hours. Today, I have to take a bus to Orlando to get to a train, which then takes 26 hours to NYP. There has been NO improvement in 40 years...in fact it has gotten WORSE!!! Greyhound gets me there in exactly the same amount of time, picks me up in downtown-my-little-town, and only costs half as much!
    Amtrak works well in the Boston-NY-Washington corridor, and on the west coast as well, but the rest of it is a waste.
    Rail passenger service will survive where it deserves to, and it will die where it deserves to. The paint job on the choo-choo might be a little different than what we are accustomed to, though.
    Dont expect me to jump on this "Save the Amtraks" band wagon...I've been saying "I told you so" since the git-go. Besides, I play with little toy trains, I dont much care about the big kids. I stopped paying attention to the big ones when they covered the CNJ's Miss Liberty with blue. I re-live, with relish, the days when Penn Central could derail cars while they were standing still! I still think an SD90MAC is something you put on a car's windshield to ward off evil rain gods (or something).
    To paraphrase Aristotle...
    'These steel rails still aint heard the news,
    The conductor sings his song again,
    The passengers must please refrain;
    This train's got them old disappearing railroad blues'
    ...with apologies to Steve Goodwin
  4. Bill. for your information, where I live one cannot get a bus, let alone a train. Greyhound quit serving Port Saint Joe back in the 1960's and the AN ran its last passenger train in 1952. Just because I can't use Amtrak doesn't mean I hope no one else can either. My last trip on Amtrak was in 1991 from Washington to Jacksonville in a roomette. Left DC at 9PM and got into Jax at 10AM. First class was cheaper than airfare and a night in a hotel in Jax. Of course it was not as nice as the train on the way up, which was a combined CSX-CR business train with a night at a hotel in Rocky Mount on CSXT.

    It is interesting that we can give farmers 180 billion to grow such things as mohair and lentils, and gift the airlines with 15 billion because they let some religious nuts steal four planes, but we act like Amtrak has a gun to our head when they ask for a lousy 200 million???

    Perhaps that is because the aircraft makers and the paving contractors own our legislators lock stock and barrel.
  5. rockislandmike

    rockislandmike Active Member

    just my two cents

    I agree with Gregg in one sense - why only the airlines got a bajillion dollar bailout after September 11, and no other industry - hotels, travel agencies, railroads, buses, etc. - boggles my mind.

    But, speaking as the budget analyst, Amtrak just isn't working. And it needs to change. It doesn't effect me as a Canadian on the prairies, but I hope through this "evolution" something better will come out as a result that's workable both as a transportation system, and budgetwise.
  6. Tyson Rayles

    Tyson Rayles Active Member

    I used to ride FEC and Southern, then when FEC dropped pass. service it was SCL in the 50's and 60's every summer from Ft. Lauderdale Fla. to Greensboro N.C. and back. A year and a half ago I rode Amtrak from Columbia, S.C. to Kissimmee, Fla. and was very dissappointed. The dining car was shabby, service average at best, rest rooms poor etc. Thank God we didn't derail cause most of the windows wouldn't open. Pass. service just isn't viable in most places anymore. Where it is let free enterprise handle it cause as long as the Govt. does it will only get worse! I did e-mail my elected rep.'s and told them to not approve the $$$$$$.
  7. Catt

    Catt Guest

    The only place you can go on AMTRAK from Grand Rapids is Chicago.It takes 5 1/2 hours to get there.You can take the bus in 4 hours. You can drive there in 4 hours.You can FLY there in 1 hour.Aside from the planeride, the trainride is the shortest trip milege wise.But the longest timewise.

    I'd rather fly.
  8. rockislandmike

    rockislandmike Active Member

    And therein lies the problem with train transportation. Today's society wants to get to where they need ASAFP. Hence, everyone flies.

    Alternatively, people would much rather use their car, as it takes about the same time as the train. I still remember the movie Singles - the guy got fired because he proposed a high-speed train in the Seattle region, and "everybody loves their car".

    Except in the northeast and southwest, I think we should just accept the fate of passenger trains. They no longer provide any advantage, except to railfans - and there's really not enough of them to support the infrastructure of a corporation like Amtrak.
  9. N Gauger

    N Gauger 1:20.3 Train Addict


    Ok, Did I miss something???? How the Heck did Amtrak get the funding to buy all kinds of new trains, (20 sets) run them 20 times a day (past my house) and then go bankrupt????

    Or was this their plan from the beginning!!?? :rolleyes:

    My name - Jose' Himinez - :confused: :eek: :confused: :eek: :confused: (Yes i know I'm showing my age) :)

    And I guess I'm "siding" with "rockislandmike"!! :)

    ~~ N gauger
  10. rich maiorano

    rich maiorano Member

    we did just look at your paycheck at the end of the week all that money had to go somewhere besides $500 hammers and toidet seats:mad: rich
  11. t. alexander

    t. alexander Member

    I to have had a couple of horrible experiences with Amtrak. both on the same train (City of New Orleans) at different times.

    So, If it was up to me to make the bail out decision i would not only deny them the money but prolly kick 'em in the caboose for asking.

    With me anyways it seemed that they really just did'nt care, it was a " You bought the ticket now sit down and shut up" sorta mentality.

    they don't have any competition so why try to make it better, heck even enjoyable.

    a less than tolarable view

  12. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member

    I thought Amtrack did have competition. It's called the motor car and aeroplane.:confused:
  13. t. alexander

    t. alexander Member

    Woody you are correct.
    My mind was thinking the rail type.

  14. gromit

    gromit New Member

    Corporate Welfare

    If an industry can't make a profit over the long haul, then it's time to let it die out. I like trains, but if they can't pay the bills, then it's time to do away with them. It really pisses me off when the government is pumping million of dollars into something that only benifits one company, industry or group of people. Take the beach replenishment projects at the New Jersey shore. They keep rebuilding the beachs for the benifit of the few people who live and visit there and the storms keep washing the beaches away. They are bascially pumping money right out to sea. Barrier islands were never meant to be built on, if rich bastards want to build a beach front houses, let them pick up the tad of rebuilding the beaches after every major strom. The only time government should step in and bail out a company is if it's a one time, bad luck thing that the compny really had no control over. Like the World Trade Center disaster or a hurricane that causes massive amounts of damage. So let Amtrak die already.

  15. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    ...and let the highways and the airlines die too.
  16. Folks, United Airlines has just asked the federal government for a loan guarantee of 2 billion, ten times what Amtrak needs for one lousy airline. I hope those of you who told your elected representatives not to fund Amtrak will at least do the same concerning United Airlines, who has been siphoning off our taxpayer dollars since 1930 and performed so poorly its owners sold it to the employees!

    As to the "fancy new equipment", most of it is leased or bought on equipment trusts, where banks and not Amtrak actually own it.

    As to poor service on Amtrak, the last time I rode it in 1991, it was quite satisfactory. But, if you didn't know if you had any long term prospects and were always cash starved by your owners, you'd find it pretty hard to provide consistently good service, too.

    Personally, I've made up my mind never to set foot in an airplane again. I'd rather ride the New York subway at rush hour! At least I wouldn't have to suffer the indignity of having some cretin or foreigner feeling me up because I have stainless steel screws in my ankle!

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